Elmhurst Park District pools earn prestigious 5-star honor

  • Elmhurst Park District lifeguards participate in safety training

Elmhurst Park District lifeguards are top notch according to the Starfish Aquatics Institute. Reviewers did an unannounced audit at East End Pool and Norman P. Smalley Pool during June, and staff was notified that the review for both facilities turned up a 5-star audit, a prestigious honor in the world of aquatics!

Lifeguards were first assessed using a “mystery shopper” approach to evaluate scanning, attentiveness and professionalism. Next, skill scenarios were conducted to evaluate the ability of the staff to respond to drowning and other emergencies. Supervisory staff were evaluated for leadership ability, and documentation and safety practices of the facility were also reviewed. More than 50 performance metrics were assessed and both Elmhurst Park District facilities met and exceeded critical standards in each one to earn the overall 5-Star rating.

“Very few aquatic facilities qualify to receive this honor,” stated Jill White, Founder of SAI, “It represents a tremendous commitment to safety and training, and exceptional performance by the lifeguard staff on duty at the time.”

Despite the fact that it’s a rare feat in the aquatics world, Elmhurst Park District is no stranger to 5-star audits. District pools have received the honor every year for more than five years. According to Angela Ferrentino, Director of Parks and Facilities, it comes down to setting the bar higher and only hiring the best.

“Our guards understand the importance of safety, and we train them hard,” said Ferrentino, “It’s an incredibly serious job, and they know the standards that we have at the Elmhurst Park District. We have a legacy of being a high-performing aquatics team.”

Teamwork is one of the things that stood out to Tim Jaskiewicz, Aquatic Manager at the Bolingbrook Park District, and the SAI representative who audited the Elmhurst pools.

“I was especially impressed with how well the groups at each pool worked together,” he said, “They communicated really well with one another. Everyone was very professional, and they did very well.”

Annalia Fowler, pool manager and lifeguard instructor, has been with the District five years and has seen the staff continuously excel.

“Lifeguard safety for us takes a lot of time and dedication that allows staff to acquire the knowledge needed to keep the Elmhurst Park District Pools 5-star facilities,” Fowler said, “It is a highlight of my summer to watch the staff grow and learn through our practices.”

SAI is one of the premier lifeguard, swim instructor and pool operator certifying agencies in the United States. The Institute offers evidence-based curricula recognized worldwide. StarGuard Elite provides risk prevention services such as training, performance audits and operational support to the aquatic industry, in an effort to improve safety and reduce the risk of drowning.

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